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March 2 Energy News



¶ “Will Autocracies Fall As The Oil Age Ends?” • The connection between reliance on a fossil fuel economy and corruption is well documented as the Resource Curse. Many of the petro-states have autocratic rule, with only Norway being democratic. With the failing profitability of fossil fuels, petro-chemical autocracies may also fail. [CleanTechnica]

Keep it in the ground. (Credit: Brylie, Wikimedia Commons) Keep it in the ground. (Credit: Brylie, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ “Why coal companies want to be seen as clean-energy players even amid new support for fossil fuels” • The coal feels the need for more than a friendly administration in Washington to survive. Electric utilities continue to switch to lower-cost natural gas and renewable sources, so coal is looking for a new public image. [Christian Science Monitor]

Science and Technology:

¶ There’s no mistaking it now. Even though we don’t have the final numbers, it is abundantly clear that the sea…

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Coal AND Nuclear ..A Honeycomb of Lies in West Cumbria


Illustration-of-licences.for West Cumbria Mining with additionsjpg.jpg From West Cumbria Mining‘s License Map – with additions from RaFL

Is Cumbria Being Frogmarched into Nuclear AND Coal?

The plan to reopen the  Whitehaven coal mine under the Irish Sea has been rumbling along for a few years with no raised eyebrows. Why are alarm bells not ringing out loud and clear?  This nasty plan will go before Cumbria County Council in May (date tbc)

Most Gaseous, Dangerous Pit in the Kingdom

These are strange, confusing days. There is all round praise being heaped on the plans to reopen Whitehaven coal mine on Cumbrias West Coast, the most gaseous, dangerous pit in the Kingdom. In 1815, Sir Humphrey Davy’s invention of the miner’s safety lamp was first tested in Whitehaven Coking Coal Mine because of its reputation for “firedamp” (methane) and fatal explosions. By 1816 the Davey lamp was in full use in collieries around Great Britain. A…

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March 1 Energy News



¶ “The trials and triumphs of offshore wind” • When it comes to renewable energy, there’s a new kid on the block and he’s making lots of new friends quickly. We’re talking of course, about offshore wind. While once resisted as too expensive and too unsightly, the technology finally has found its sea legs and is really making a splash. [GreenBiz]

Offshore wind farm under construction off the coast  of Britain (ShutterstockNuttawut / Uttamaharad) Offshore wind farm under construction off the coast
of Britain (ShutterstockNuttawut / Uttamaharad)

¶ “Will US Solar Growth Continue To Shock, Explode, & Demolish Under Trump/Bannon/Pence?” • Solar power growth was more dramatic than almost anyone expected during the Obama administration. That was largely due to global factors, incentives in other countries and the dramatic drop in solar panel costs. [CleanTechnica]

Science and Technology:

¶ A US Geological Survey study combines climate change and invasive species research by examining how native Brook Trout interact…

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With New El Nino Predicted, 3rd Hottest January on Record May be Cool Mark for 2017


Last month was pretty darn hot as global temperature measures go.

According to NASA, the world’s thermometer averaged 1.14 C warmer than 1880s temperatures or about 0.92 C warmer than NASA’s 20th Century baseline. These readings were the third warmest for January since NASA record keeping began in 1880.


(A record hot world cools a little during January of 2017 relative to 2016. Unfortunately, with La Nina fading and a new El Nino predicted and with atmospheric CO2 measures continuing to climb, more record breaking or near record breaking global heat appears to be on the way. Image source: NASA GISS.)

2016-2017 La Nina — Not Very Cool

For a temperature measure that has consistently been producing ‘hottest months on record’ throughout 2016, the dip back to top 3 during January represents an ephemeral respite. More to the point, the fact that this third hottest ever reading occurred…

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Famine Warning Issued in Four Countries Following Worst African Droughts in Decades


Abnormally warm West Pacific sea surface temperatures — in part driven by a weak La Nina, in part driven by global warming — produced changes in atmospheric circulation that considerably reduced rainfall over Eastern and Southern Africa during 2016. As a result, places like Rwanda, Kenya, Eithiopia, South Sudan, and Somalia experienced some of their worst droughts in decades.


(According to the Famine Early Warning Network,  more than 70 million people are facing hunger around the world in 2017. The primary causes include drought, military conflict, and lack of ability of nations to access food on the international market. Four countries — Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria — now face famine. And drought and conflict stricken Africa is the primary hot-spot for global hunger. Climate change has likely worsened this situation by adding to the intensity of droughts and heatwaves now affecting the region. In addition, past year…

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Bullying cases targeting young Fukushima evacuees spread to Tokyo



Fresh cases of bullying targeting children who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture following the 2011 nuclear disaster have emerged in Tokyo.

According to Tokyo Saigai Shien Netto (Tossnet), a group of lawyers supporting Fukushima evacuees, three schoolchildren who moved to Tokyo in the wake of the triple core meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant were subjected to bullying at an elementary school in Chiyoda Ward between 2011 and 2015.

According to the group, one elementary school student and two others who are now in junior high school were called names repeatedly, with classmates shunning them by saying they could spread radiation. One of the children recalled being called kin (germ).

The group on Monday reported the incidents as cases of bullying to the board of education in Chiyoda Ward. The board said it had not been aware of the incidents and will look into the matter.

Chiyoda Ward is also investigating a separate case in which another student from Fukushima at a junior high school was allegedly forced to buy snacks for three other students.

The revelation comes in the wake of a bullying case in Yokohama, where a 13-year-old boy had been forced to pay ¥1.5 million to classmates at an elementary school he transferred to following the disaster.

After initially denying the claim, on Feb. 13 the Yokohama Board of Education acknowledged the payments made by the boy to classmates in the school were the result of bullying.

The boy entered the elementary school in Yokohama as a second-grader in August 2011, but after being called kin he began missing school in the third grade, according to a report released by the board.

The boy’s parents told the school in May 2014 that their son was a victim of bullying and told the police in July that he was involved in money trouble with his classmates.

March 2, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima cleanup chief urges better use of probe robot


Naohiro Masuda, head of decommissioning the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, speaks at a news conference in Tokyo on March 2, 2017.

TOKYO (AP) — The head of decommissioning for the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant said Thursday that more creativity is needed in developing robots to locate and assess the condition of melted fuel rods.

Naohiro Masuda, president of Fukushima Dai-ichi decommissioning, said Thursday that more data is needed so they can develop a better strategy for removing debris. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., and the government will decide on a method this summer.

Masuda said that a robot sent inside the Unit 2 containment vessel last month could not reach as close to the core area as hoped, because it was blocked on its planned route by deposits, believed to be mixture of melted fuel and broken pieces of equipment.

Masuda said he wants another probe sent in before deciding on methods to remove the reactor’s debris.

TEPCO needs to know the melted fuel’s exact location as well as structural damage in each of the three wrecked reactors to figure out the best and safest ways to remove the fuel.

Despite the incomplete probe missions, officials have said they want to stick to their schedule to determine the removal methods this summer and start work in 2021.

Unit 2 is one of the Fukushima reactors that melted down following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The unit had less damage to its containment vessel, so internal probes there are ahead of the other two reactors.

Still, the earlier probes have suggested worse-than-anticipated challenges for the plant’s cleanup, which is expected to take decades.

Similar probes are being planned for the other two reactors. A tiny waterproof robot will be sent into Unit 1 in coming weeks, while experts are still trying to figure out a way to access the badly damaged Unit 3.

TEPCO is struggling with the plant’s decommissioning. The 2011 meltdown forced tens of thousands of nearby residents to evacuate their homes, and many have still not been able to return home due to high radiation levels.

Images captured from inside the chamber show damage, and structures coated with molten material, possibly mixed with melted nuclear fuel.

March 2, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Bribery scandal over Fukushima decontamination



Bribery scandal over Fukushima decontamination

Police in Japan have arrested an environment ministry official for alleged bribery over decontamination work following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Fifty-six-year-old Yuji Suzuki, who works at a ministry sub-branch in the prefecture, is suspected of helping a construction company land such work in exchange for wining and dining.

The work is aimed at removing radioactive material from houses, soil and woods near the crippled plant.

Fukushima and Tokyo police found that Suzuki was provided entertainment at hostess bars and a free trip worth about 1,750 US dollars from the construction firm in Toyama Prefecture.

Police also arrested a former president of the firm, Mikio Kosugi over the suspected bribery. The 2 have reportedly admitted to the allegations.

Suzuki is among experts hired on a temporary basis by the ministry to deal with reconstruction work including cleaning up widespread fallout from the accident. Police say he was in charge of overseeing decontamination.

Environment Minister Koichi Yamamoto on Thursday expressed regret, saying the scandal could undermine Fukushima people’s trust in the cleanup effort.

He said his ministry will try to win back public trust by tightening discipline and carrying out work properly.

Bureaucrat held for allegedly taking bribe for Fukushima cleanup work

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Police arrested an Environment Ministry employee Thursday on suspicion of receiving a bribe in exchange for favorable treatment in the allocation of cleanup work in Fukushima Prefecture following the 2011 nuclear disaster.

The police alleged that Yuji Suzuki, 56, who handles radiation decontamination work at a local branch of the ministry, was offered nightclub entertainment several times over a period between 2015 and 2016 by a former company manager, the police said.

The police also arrested Mikio Kosugi, 63, for allegedly wining and dining Suzuki in hopes of getting the public servant to give his Toyama Prefecture company work to remove radioactive materials from near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, the police said.

Both Suzuki and Kosugi admitted the allegation, according to police. Sources close to the matter said the estimated value of the inducements Suzuki received is several hundred thousand yen.

The allegation surfaced as the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has estimated the cost of decontamination work, including soil and tree removals, will surge to 4 trillion yen ($35 billion) from an earlier projection of 2.5 trillion yen.

March 2, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Govt. to keep control over TEPCO for longer period


The Japanese government has decided to maintain control over the operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant for an extended period.

Officials made the decision due to rising costs from the recovery of the 2011 nuclear accident.

The government acquired a 50.1 percent stake in Tokyo Electric Power Company through a state-backed bailout fund after the accident. This put the utility under effective state control.

Under the current plan, the government was to gradually reduce its control after April by selling TEPCO stocks in phases, while monitoring the company’s management.

But the government estimates that it will cost a total of about 188 billion dollars to clean up the soil, pay compensation, and decommission reactors. That’s about twice as much as an earlier estimate.

The extension of state control over TEPCO means that the government has to give up the current plan to cover the clean-up cost of about 35 billion dollars by selling the utility’s shares.

The government is now considering listing a joint venture set up by TEPCO, and Chubu Electric Power Company, and selling its stocks. It is also looking into selling some shares of a TEPCO group company that operates a power transmission business.

The government intends to include these financial alternatives in the utility’s business plan which will be renewed for the first time in 3 years in spring.

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Amid Nuclear Reactor Radiation Fears, South Korea Abandons Japan Airport Flights


South Korea’s Jeju airline ditches Fukushima Airport due to radiation fears

SEOUL – South Korean low-cost carrier Jeju Air has decided not to use Fukushima Airport for planned chartered flights between South Korea and northeastern Japan due to crew fears of radiation, officials have said.

The carrier will switch to Sendai International Airport in Miyagi Prefecture to operate the flights between Incheon International Airport and northeastern Japan from March, they said on Tuesday.

Jeju Air had planned a flight from Fukushima to Incheon airport on March 18 with a return flight on March 20.

However, it is understood some of the airline’s staff expressed health concerns over flights to and from the airport in Fukushima Prefecture, where Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is located.

In a written message to staff, Chief Executive Officer Choi Kyu-nam said there was technically no safety problems associated with Fukushima Airport. But the carrier said it will still cancel its chartered service to allay fears from employees and their families.

Jeju Air will instead use Sendai International Airport to provide Fukushima Prefecture residents with flight access to South Korea, Choi said.

The company’s planned use of Fukushima Airport drew criticism from a South Korean labor organization.

Fears of radiation are still strong in South Korea. The nation has an ongoing ban on imports of all marine products from eight prefectures in Japan, including Fukushima.

Some Jeju Air customers in South Korea reportedly posted online that they wouldn’t use the airline in the future because they didn’t want to “board airplanes that flew over Fukushima.”

H.I.S. Co., which is planning tours using the flights, received a request from Jeju Air to change the route, according to officials of the Japanese firm.

But the travel agency said it hoped that the airline would stick to its original plan and use Fukushima Airport.


Fukushima News: Amid Nuclear Reactor Radiation Fears, South Korea Abandons Japan Airport Flights

South Korean airline Jeju Air announced Tuesday it would cancel all flights to and from Japan’s Fukushima Airport over fears of heightened levels of radiation stemming from the nuclear disaster that befell the city’s nuclear plant in 2011, the Japan Times reported.

The low-cost carrier reportedly abandoned plans for a chartered March 18 flight from Fukushima Airport to Incheon Airport in South Korea and a March 20 return flight after staff complained they did not want to be exposed to potentially harmful levels of radiation in the northwestern Japanese region where the disaster occurred. The airport was located about 40 miles from Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) nuclear power plant when it sustained damage from a deadly March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, causing a massive release of radioactive material and the evacuation of about 160,000 residents.

While TEPCO has undergone a $188 billion recovery effort to clean up the 310-square mile exclusion zone, workers were forced to dump cooling water on the nuclear reactor’s cores, further contaminating the environment by introducing nuclear material to the local groundwater. Radioactive levels within the plant itself were so high, a remote-controlled robot sent to explore the site became incapacitated last month. A study by Japan National Tourism Organization showed that the Feb. 20 levels of radiation at Fukushima Airport were just above twice that of Tokyo, but were less than that of other major cities such as Seoul, Singapore and London.

March 2, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima fishermen expand fishing zone to within 10 km of crippled nuclear plant


Restricted fishing zone around Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to be reduced to 10km. Tests not looking for Sr-90. In my humble opinion a 7 mile radius is not nearly enough given the unfathomable quantities of radiation that have escaped, or been willingly released into the Pacific ocean. It has reached the west coast of North America via the North Pacific Gyre and the abundance of aquatic life it carries with it.

We keep saying sea products from Fukushima are safe, based on the results of radioactive tests,” Tetsu Nozaki, chairman of the federation, told reporters after it held a meeting in the city of Iwaki on Tuesday.

yes, you keep saying it…

FUKUSHIMA – Fishermen in Fukushima Prefecture have decided to expand the fishing zone off the northeastern prefecture nearly six years after a nuclear crisis caused havoc in the region.

The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations will next month narrow down the restricted zone to within a 10-km radius of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant from the current 20 km.

In January last year the federation proposed expanding the fishing area, citing a declining density of radioactive material in the sea following the completion in October 2015 of seawalls to prevent contaminated underground water entering the ocean from the plant.

But the plan was postponed amid concerns over contaminated debris, which has since been removed.

We keep saying sea products from Fukushima are safe, based on the results of radioactive tests,” Tetsu Nozaki, chairman of the federation, told reporters after it held a meeting in the city of Iwaki on Tuesday.

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